Flower market, Ahmedabad, 27/07/09
Except for some tailors and autowalas you can trust anyone here. Some autos are airbuses and wouldn’t buzz for a place here and there. Some tailors believe they are accurate enough without a tape and can cut your clothes just half. And worse is the murmur, ‘How could I do this’, while you are perspiring with anger.
After you have traveled to a place like Delhi if you land here in Gujjuland you are sure to sit down and think, ‘What is wrong here.’ While other places experience violent rapes and vulgarity on a new year night, people here in Gujjuland come out on the CG road with strange toy like whistles and blow from time to time. Men and women together walk in crowd…they don’t touch, they don’t comment. They blow into their toys ignoring the rest of the world! Wow!
Our tongue is probably a direct extension of the brain which scientists may much later discover. And may be that is why languages and behaviours are connected so much. All bhais and bens as addressed here are may be seriously treated as siblings somehow…otherwise who would imagine a bus where everyone is quiet and confined to their places, who can ever visualize that a place like Sunday-market may experience bag looting but never an indecent act?
While rest of the world is madly battling with their libido and deciding what to do and what not, Gujjuland is happy and glad seeing women in chania-choli dancing to the beat of garba once a year, may be giggling a little, ogling at some, joining the circle to dance with her and later build it into a love story or a story good enough to be shared at an evening with friends, bhajia and chai.
People are simple, sweet and un-ambitiously satisfied. Once when my ATM card wasn’t operating and the guard came to help and I hesitated, he told me, ‘I am a happy man with the dal and roti I earn. A dishonest act with lot of money may not be something I am looking for.’ A realization worth million dollars! And almost everyone in this land has reached a level to think like that.
A location asked to the strangers here is taken like a maths problem given to Einstein. They would be disappointed and puzzled to think that a place like that is in vicinity and yet not known to them, they would walk extra steps, scratch their heads and ask others, discuss and come back with a victorious solution.
You can travel alone late night and the auto driver would proudly remind you that this is possible only here. They take credit of being honest, decent and simple! A quality almost extinct in other parts of India or world where if you have cheated someone, a pride-story is built and people tag you as ‘smart’.
Men with reddish brown hair that shine under the sun, with may be an orange shirt with million tags and a tight brown trouser…women with shiny dupattas, crisscrossed blouses, and numerous rings at toes and ears…Minaben, Shantiben, Harishbhai or Dineshbhai…they are fashionable in their own happy ways. Never cunning, never shrewd, never a diplomat. The common people of Gujarat are highly satisfied wherever they are. And the entire place has that light soul cherishing the simplicity of life.
A simple street vendor has a heart big enough to show fault in his goods and say, ‘Come after two days, when I have better ones’, even when you had just decided to buy it not noticing the defect! Seeing corrupted people in this corrupted world when your own eyes get corrupted and consider corruption very normal, this is a place which makes you question again and again, ‘what is wrong here’ or rather ‘what is so right’.
And when the secrets have been researched upon and found, can’t these be applied to the places suffering every now and then? What makes the difference in the attitude of the people in a place that somewhere an indecent act is rather supported by the public and celebrated shamelessly and somewhere a person with less education and income even takes pride that he is sane?
Every place has a soul holding the collective vibe of the people. The people make the city and also the city makes the people. And the aura that Gujarat holds is great. When the world has run its rat race after money, name and fame and fatigued cheating, beating and competing and yet not gained, if the soul of Gujarat is yet not lost, it would definitely have a lot to teach and teach the rest to rest. Even the most educated, famous and rich after all, has a lot to learn from a person who can dare to laugh and say, ‘I am a happy man with the dal and roti I earn.’
We have perhaps complicated life just too much. A Saturday evening here and all the restaurants, parks and movies are full with celebration. And the air across the city here is free and light. If you lean against one of the bridges in those evenings over the Sabarmati, under the rows of yellow lights flooding the water and road partially, you would hear the air speak a simple language too. It whispers repeatedly like a mantra, and haunts every heart here and says… 'Khavanu pivanu majjani life.’
Gujjuland ni Jay! Anne Amdavad ni jay!